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Denver Nuggets: Lucky number seven

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How will this year's draft position impact the future success of the club? One very unscientific look.

How lucky is the number seven?
How lucky is the number seven?
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, there's a moment between the realization that something bad happened, and the pain that follows. Take a moment I experienced last Saturday, for example.

I was looking at a pair of shoes I wasn't even planning to buy, but wanted to see the tread pattern underneath. As I flipped the shoe over, it slipped from my hand and started to fall to the floor. Thinking myself exceptionally quick, I reached out to snag the shoe out of midair one-handed, and so had to trap it against myself to keep it from falling.

Sadly, I did so by swinging it directly into my nutsack. Yes, you read that right. I racked myself. Accidentally.

Right after you take one to the jewels, there's a very brief moment in which nothing happens. You literally have just enough time to think, "uh oh" before the roaring in your ears starts and you try to decide if you have to vomit. I stood there, hanging onto the shoe rack and swaying like a drunk person with what I hear was a wry smile on my face.

I picture it very much like the smile Michael Malone gave when the Denver Nuggets were awarded their expected slot in Tuesday night's Draft Lottery. Not that it was the equivalent of a swat to the yarbles, but Malone's first reaction was a moment of reflection, followed by a smile that was pained, at best. Malone's smile may have just been the joy of sitting silently as a camera stares into your "how should I be responding?" soul. The world has certainly not ended, and Malone otherwise seemed fairly pragmatic about the whole thing. There will be a very serviceable player available at seven, as we saw in the same slot last year with the nifty pickup of Emmanuel Mudiay.

What does it mean to a team to get into the lottery? What might it have meant to the Nuggets to have landed at least the three spot this time around? Over the long term, what was the difference to a franchise between the seven and the three? There have been 31 lottery drafts leading up to this one, and with one more tacked on for good measure -€” and for very good reason -€” we've got a bit of history to reflect upon. What's been the difference between the players selected in those two spots over 32 tries?

Broken down into four groups, so as to understand how much data there is for the argument.

Group One -€” Early to tell

2015 -€” (7) Emmanuel Mudiay vs. (3) Jahlil Okafor

They've both played a season, they've both got potential. I'm really glad for the guy we got, but we'll see who ends up the better player. Okafor had a slightly better first season, statistically, but Mudiay has a sharper learning curve to figure out coming in. My inner homer screams it will be Mudiay. Incomplete. (I)

2014 -€” (7) Julius Randle vs. (3) Joel Embiid

Randle bounced back from an injury year with the Lakers in what basically amounted to his rookie year on the Kobe tour, and Embiid has yet to se the floor after foot injuries. Randle scores a narrow win for simply getting on the floor. (7)

2013 -€” (7) Ben McLemore vs. (3) Otto Porter

Porter. Most all of the advanced stats lean his way. (3)

Group 2: The career arc is getting pretty clear

2012 -€” (7) Harrison Barnes vs. (3) Bradley Beal

Pretty clearly Beal on this one. (3)

2011 -€” (7) Bismack Biyombo vs. (3) Enes Kanter

This one a much closer call, with a few of the advanced metrics only muddying the waters. Kanter by the thinnest of margins. (3)

2010 - (7) Greg Monroe vs. (3) Derrick Favors

Monroe takes all the important advanced stats in this one. (7)

2009 -€” (7) Stephen Curry vs. (3) James Harden

As great a matchup as it is, score another one for the little guy. (7)

2008 -€” (7) Eric Gordon vs. (3) O.J. Mayo

And Gordon makes it a trifecta. (7)

2007 -€” (7) Corey Brewer vs. (3) Al Horford

Though this one is a no-brainer for Horford. (3)

2006 -€” (7) Randy Foye vs. (3) Adam Morrison

Morrison was a bust, and Foye has played many serviceable years. Easy peasy. (7)

2005 -€” (7) Charlie Villanueva vs. (3) Deron Williams

Williams. Hands down. (3)

2004 -€” (7) Luol Deng vs. (3) Ben Gordon

Gordon had some nice moments, but Deng outpaced him in overall metrics by a fair margin. (7)

2003 -€” (7) Kirk Hinrich vs. (3) Carmelo Anthony

Even Kirk Hinrich just went, "Psh!". Melo by a mile. (3)

2002 -€” (7) Nene vs. (3) Mike Dunleavy

Nene all day day. Former Nuggets cleaning up on this ridiculous and contrived concept! (7)

2001 -€” (7) Eddie Griffin vs. (3) Pau Gasol

POW! PAU! (3)

Group 3: Almost everyone is retired

2000 -€” (7) Chris Mihm vs. (3) Darius Miles

In a year of "who?" vs. "huh?", it's Miles winning in most all categories. (3)

1999 -€” (7) Richard Hamilton vs. (3) Baron Davis

Both wonderful players, but Davis has some stellar stats. (3)

1998 -€” (7) Jason Williams vs. (3) Raef LaFrentz

LaFrentz keeps the streak alive. (3)

1997 -€” (7) Tim Thomas vs. (3) Chauncey Billups

All Mr. Big Shot to keep the threes running hot. (3)

1996 -€” (7) Lorenzen Wright vs. (3) Shareef Abdur-Rahim

Yikes. Abdur-Rahim continues the streak. (3)

1995 -€” (7) Damon Stoudamire vs. (3) Jerry Stackhouse

This one was a much tougher call, but Stackhouse by a nose. (3)

1994 -€” (7) Lamond Murray vs. (3) Grant Hill

Not even a discussion. (3)

1993 -€” (7) Bobby Hurley vs. (3) Penny Hardaway

The beat goes on, and Penny picks it up. (3)

1992 -€” (7) Walt Williams vs. (3) Christian Laettner

Laettner's stats speak for themselves in this head to head. (3)

1991 -€” (7) Luc Longley vs. (3) Billy Owens

And so on... (3)

1990 -€” (7) Lionel Simmons vs. (3) Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

And so on... (3)

1989 -€” (7) George McCloud vs. (3) Sean Elliott

Yup... (3)

1988 -€” (7) Tim Perry vs. (3) Charles Smith

Who? And still... (3)

1987 -€” (7) Kevin Johnson vs. (3) Dennis Hopson

KJ breaks the streak, gloriously! (7)

1986 -€” (7) Roy Tarpley vs. (3) Chris Washburn

Tarpley makes it two... (7)

1985 -€” (7) Chris Mullin vs. (3) Benoit Benjamin

And another... Not even close here. (7)

Group 4: Retired, but I'M MICHAEL JORDAN

1984 -€” (7) Alvin Robertson vs. (3) Michael Jordan

This from the season before the draft lottery. Apparently, you could still find a pretty decent pickup at the third pick, if you were so inclined. All due respect to Robertson, it's MJ. (3)

Quite a few years in that mix in which the team with the seventh pick fared better than the club who had picked before them at the three spot. But still heavier to the earlier picks, all in all.

What say you, Nuggets Nation? How much of a difference would the three spot have made to us this year, as opposed to our current slot at seven?